Sunday, August 22, 2010

BIG changes to the Denicalis Dragon Chronicles

Greetings Denicalis fans! The end of summer 2010 is almost upon us and my, my, MY what a flash before my eyes it has been! I hope you all had some time off whatever it is you do the most - be it school, work, writing, etc! My vacation is coming up soon - I'll be taking some time off to be a part of the Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts! The Big E will be open for 17 days straight, from September 17th thru October 3rd. If you happen to be there during that time, make sure you stop by the Connecticut building on the Avenue of the States and look for the CAPA bookstore! I may not be there but be sure to check out the dozens of books on the bookshelves - ALL written by our talented Connecticut authors!

Now, I'd like to apologize for not updating this here blog more often. I'm incredibly busy doing LOTS of things! The most important of these is I've FINALLY finished book 4 in the Denicalis Dragon Chronicles! Dragon's Breath went live on June 20th and I'm seeing some wonderful feedback already! It's by far the most important book in the series - I've killed off a few characters ("Oh, no!") and introduced some others. It's double the size of The Prisoner, and weighs in at a meaty 540 pages! What a relief to finally have it done! Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), it is NOT the final book in the series. I'm about to start working on book 5 (as yet unnamed) and hope to have it out Fall 2011.

Other news!

I've created a few more websites, although some of them don't have a whole lot of info on them. I've got big plans and desires for them though - now if I could just find the time to organize what I want! Someday...

Check them out if you have a minute or five: - this site has "All things MJ Allaire" - books, ebooks (coming soon!), dragon towels and trinket cases, Denicals Dragon Chronicles t-shirts and more! - I want this to be a site for both authors and teachers - where they come together and arrange school visits, etc to keep kids READING! - this site will feature books and short stories written by teen authors. Hopefully we can give a boost to those young authors who are out there! - this site is MY new company site - and it's the site that will host my lastest publications...

Drum roll please??.....

Coming in September (but of course available for pre-sale NOW) - the first three books in my fantasy series - Dragon's Blood, The Prisoner and Dragon's Tear - are being printed NOW and will be republished under my own name, Bookateer Publishing! I'm hoping in the very near future to be able to offer publishing services to the many, many authors out there who are finding out just how hard it is to get published traditionally. We will offer cover design, galley design and editing. This should be up and running by the end of 2010! If you know someone who says "I've always wanted to write a book but don't know how to get published," please send them my way! Make sure they tell me they heard about Bookateer Publishing from THIS blog and I'll give them 20% off the publishing services (NOT to include book purchases)!!

If you'd like to see pictures of the new covers, go to my facebook page and check out my photo albums. 2010 has been a great year for me but I really can't wait to see what 2011 brings!

Enjoy the rest of your summer and make sure you keep reading!

Summerly hugs, MJ

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Well, Halloween is almost here, and before we know it we'll be stuffing ourselves with turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, among many other delectable treats, I'm sure. Then, if you're like me, as I sit with my family sharing the end of the Thanksgiving holiday, the realization will hit me (like it always does) that Christmas is ONLY four weeks away...

If you're an author, you're probably always looking for places to market your books. For me, I'm lucky enough to have chosen a popular genre to write in and the first three books in my YA Fantasy Series are showing to be very marketable. Over the summer there are fairs, summer parties, and many other places that I can market to, and believe me, I try to every chance I get. But in the fall, just like the changing seasons, I also change my marketing strategy.

With the beginning of fall comes the beginning of school, and one of my target markets is schools. What better time to create something to send to a school than the end of summer!

I use Adobe Photoshop for almost all of my marketing ideas. It's a wonderful product to have to manipulate pictures or to add text on top of a picture. Be aware, however, there is a learning curve to this program.

When the marketing bug finally bit me correctly (it took a while, believe me!), one of the first things I did was to go to and get a quote for their bookmarks (two-sided) and business cards (also two-sided). They give you a template, which I open up in Adobe Photoshop, and I use the template to design bookmarks & business cards.

Another thing I've used Photoshop for is to create a postcard, which I then mail to local schools. To design my postcard, I create the blank document then inserted a photo of each of my book covers. With photoshop, you use "layers", which are just what they sound like. You can "layer" one photo on top of the other (or move them to where ever you want on the document) - You can also add text and color the background. When I get it just the way I want it, I save it as a pdf with all the individual layers, then "flatten it" (this combines all the layers into one layer, which means that you can no longer make any changes to the design) and save it again as a flattened pdf, then again as a .jpg. I then take this .jpg down to staples and have them print out whatever quanitity of postcards I'm looking for. For mine, they usually can do 4 postcards per sheet of card stock. Their prices are fairly reasonable and it makes it MUCH easier for me to just have them do it and I go pick them up later.

I then go online to google and search for "southeastern CT schools" and it gives me sites that have a list of schools in New London County. This can be a pain when you do it the first time, but once you have the list, put it into an excel sheet and save it... then you won't have to do it again. I then do a mail merge in Microsoft Word and print these addresses out on Avery sticky labels.

Another great thing about the beginning of the school year is all of the fall festivals that happen around New England. If you do a search on google for "New England festivals" or "Connecticut fall festivals" (or your own state), you'll likely get many hits for different fall events going on in your area. Some of these events can be pretty expensive to be a vendor at, but many of them (in our area at least) are reasonably priced. About a year and a half ago, Tom Santos (another author and good friend) and I bought two 10'x10' canopy tents and some card tables from Wal-Mart. The size of the both spaces at these festivals is usually the same size as our tent, so we'll either share one booth or get two booths and set up next to each other. It's a good idea to have other things to sell in your booth, because let's face it, some people just aren't interested in books. You want to make your booth appear more rich and inviting, so it's probably a good idea to bring in other items to sell, but make sure you check with the event coordinators first. Certain events that we do here don't want it to look like a flea market, so you have to be tactful with what you bring :) ... and if you're crafty, hand made things are perfect for these events!

Something else I've done is to have an 18" x 24" foamboard poster made at Staples from a picture (that I again created in Photoshop) of all three books and text at the bottom announcing that I'm the author, my email and my website info. Actually I have quite a few of these made, because I also take them to Borders Stores where I have an upcoming book signing so they can use it to advertise for me... but when I do these craft fairs, I'll usually hang one of the posters showing all three book covers on it directly in front of my books, then I'll have an easel out near the front of the booth where I hang another (different) one, advertising usually the cover of book three (Dragon's Tear) because it's the more eye-catching (I think) of the three.

Tom had us a couple of large banners made from and we hang them at the back of our tent from the top area of the tent. We also bring bookmarks, business cards, and I have summaries of each of my books as well as PLENTY of books! Especially at this time of year, more than any other time, people are looking for a sale, so I post a sign on the front of my table alerting readers/buyers to my special price for all three books.

Events like these are great because it's a BEAUTIFUL time of year in New England, but it also gets you "out there" to meet the people and to start getting that name/face/book recognition that every author needs to be successful. Because of our rapidly changing seasons here, our participation in outdoor events is nearly at an end, but that just means we need to change our focus to indoor events.

And as for writing book four, who has time for writing when all they can think about doing is market, market, market? :) When Christmas is done and we settle into the bitter cold of winter, THAT will be my time to write. It won't stop me from THINKING about selling, believe me, but hopefully I'll be able to slow myself down a bit to get that next book in my series done.

For now, I'm thankful for all that I've learned about this whole process we call "being an author". Who'da thunk it could be SO DAMN CHALLENGING! But you know what? I've said it before and I'll say it again… I wouldn't change it for anything. I love how much I've grown the past few years and how much I've learned about what really goes into being an author. Writing is definitely the easy part (well, when you can find the TIME to write, anyways!!). But the way I see it, whether you're self-published or traditionally published, if you want your books and your name to become known, YOU will HAVE to do the work to get them out there! Unless you're someone like Stephen King or JK Rowling of course, which many, many of us are NOT…

So, what are you waiting for! Start Googling!

Plug away, my friends, and know that someday all your hard work, time, blood, sweat and tears WILL pay off!!

Happy reading, writing, AND fall craft-fairing!

MJ Allaire

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Big E Book Sales!!

I recently had the honor and opportunity to spend three wonderful days in Springfield Massachusetts at the Big E the weekend of 9/19-9/21/08 and all I can say is what an absolute, totally WHIRLWIND weekend it was!! I'm still flying from it and am sure I will be for a while. I talked to so many people (readers, parents, teachers, etc), sold SO many books (although I did come home with some of each, which is a good thing because I've got some events coming up in the next few weeks that I'll need books for ... but the whole Big E event was just a wonderful experience!

My son was there with me part of that weekend, helping to move books etc as I needed to (THANK YOU, MIC!!!), and as we were heading out to the car at the end of my third day there, I looked at him and said, "I feel like I'm leaving my kids behind". He looked at me kind of funny and I explained that after selling as many books as I did, talking to teachers and librarians and parents about promoting reading, visiting schools, etc etc etc, and spending nearly 12 hours every day for THREE days straight just trying to make a difference..... I felt like I was leaving something really important behind (and if you think about it, I really was). Honestly I feel like my total experience at the Big E was one of THE most rewarding and accomplished things I've done since I started writing!!! And what's even cooler than that is even after three 12-hour days of go go go, talk talk talk, sell sell sell, I didn't want to leave. I wanted to go right back in there and just keep doing it!!! It's exhausting and very overwhelming at times, but damn, I just didn't want to leave!!!!

Debbie and Mike Kilday were two of our staple contributors & organizers of this year's event, and I want to just send a MUCH deserved shout-out to them both!!!! Debbie has been there every day since the beginning of the Big E and WILL be there every day until it's done, and her husband Mike has been there almost every day. After dealing with arranging books, logging the sales, etc during the day, they then go home and tally up all the sales from the day. Debbie is our full time cashier, which was ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!!!! I told her (and Mike) over and over again that the booth is BEAUTIFUL this year and having HER for the full-time cashier really makes it easier for the featured authors to talk to the public, make the sale, and move on to the next reader without having to worry about dealing with the $$.

At the halfway point for the Big E (around day 8), the book sales in our booth had surpassed how much we made last year total!!! Our readers ROCK!!!! I worked with Doreen Tango Hampton and Elaine Alexander on Saturday and we stayed very busy nearly all day. I worked again with Doreen on Sunday and we had an absolutely WONDERFUL time working together sharing many laughs, ideas, and just having a great time together.... thank you ladies!!!

We had a near record-breaking number of people who came to the Big E on Saturday, 9/20 - the weather was beautiful, the sun was shining, it wasn't too hot .. it was just a GREAT day!!!

As it turns out, I had a record-breaking weekend for my OWN sales as well! According to what I was able to keep track of (and I'm sure it was actually more but I'm not sure how much), I believe I sold 250 books between this weekend and the sales from books last week that were in the booth before I got there!!!


I had new readers who bought the set of three books in my series as well as readers who were looking just for book three, Dragon's Tear. I had anywhere from 8-year olds to retired grandparents buying books ... and all I can say is thank you to my readers, the parents, teachers, librarians, etc that I talked to this weekend!!! You guys ALL made my weekend one of the most memorable experiences of my life!!!

As I look back, all I can think of is what an experience it was!! I'm still flying after talking to a woman who said that the books are very hot in her school right now - (she was actually very surprised when she realized I was the author lol.) I asked her where her school was and she said ALBANY, NEW YORK!!!! I told her that I've never been there and she said, "Well, your books are there and the kids LOVE them.".....

WoooooooooooooooooooooHooooooooooooooooooo!!!! And to quote my good friend C.L. Freire.....


A funny thing from this weekend .. I spoke to a woman and her husband yesterday who said their daughter was really disappointed that she couldn't be there to meet me, but she wanted to buy my books for her. I asked her how her daughter knew me or heard of me and she said she works at BORDERS IN SIMSBURY, CT (which I've been to about 4-5 times doing book signings LOL) and she's been wanting to meet me but always has to work or something else gets in the way ... so they bought her a set and I signed them for her ...


At 6 pm on 9/21 it was the end of mine and Doreen's shifts and two new authors came in to be the featured authors. I decided to sign more books to leave since they'd been such a hit, and I was standing in the back of the booth. As I looked around every so often, I would notice someone looking at my books on the shelf and of course the marketing/selling side of me MADE me go talk to them (LOL) to let them know I was the author and which was book 1, book 2, etc. I was thrilled when I actually sold a copy of book 1 (Dragon's Blood) to one lady when she saw her 10-year old wanted it and then she said she would get the other two from me but had to wait for him to wander off to the lego place before she could. I told her if she didn't get the chance, here is my business card with my info on it and she can always call/email me and I'd be happy to sign them and mail them directly to her. Now that I think about it, I did that a LOT while I was up there ... :)

If you look in my pictures here on MySpace (, I created a Big E 2008 photo album where I've put some pictures from yesterday when it finally slowed down for five minutes. My books were on the top of the brown bookshelf as soon as you walk into the booth. Indiana Jones was COMPLETELY made out of legos .. and I just had to get a picture of him. He was really amazing!!! I can't imagine how much time and legos it took to make him!!!! Kudos go out to the lego builders, too!!!

Well, the weekend is gone and today I have to go back to work. I just wanted to share my Big E experiences with you and tell you that if you're an author out there struggling to get your books out there, you CAN make a difference and it CAN be done!!!! Do everything you can to get your name out there!! If you'd like info about our CAPA group, visit the CAPA website at or email me at and I'll be happy to share anything I know. My next blog will have some info in it about what I do to get my books "out there"... so stay tuned for that!!
I actually got to go back to the Big E one more day .. 9/27/08 .. and managed to sell another 93+ books!!! So that brings my total to close to 400 books sold over a 17 day period (I was only there 4 of those days) and I believe I'm going to end up being THE TOP SELLER for the duration of the Big E!! If I didn't make the top seller, I will be very surprised ... and am sure I made the top three. What a wonderful feeling it is, to finally see the books that I've put my heart, soul and years of my life into finally getting "out there"!!! Mega thank you's go to those of you who took the time to stop and talk to me, and of course to those of you who actually bought one or more of the books!!! THANK YOU!!!

Also, infinite kudos to Debbie & Mike Kilday, the ENTIRE Capa BIG E Committee, and all those wonderful Connecticut Authors who are participating in the EXCELLENT and HUGELY SUCCESSFUL event this year!!!

Today is the first day of fall, so get out there and enjoy the cooler weather, make sure you ALWAYS have a book with you, and as always,

Hugs from me to all of you,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Support CT Authors at the Big E!!!

Hi everyone!

I've been incredibly busy the past few months and decided now was the time to update you on a few things happening in my life...

First of all, if you are anywhere near the BIG E in New England make sure you stop by the CT Building and check out the CAPA (Connecticut Authors and Publishers) Bookstore! This year there are over 100 titles in the bookstore from various genres, written exclusively by Connecticut authors! For more information about CAPA, visit The Big E runs for 17 days and this year the dates are Sept 12th - Sept 28th, so the clock's-a-tickin'!! If you'd like more information, check out their website at

If you love to read or know someone who does, an autographed book signed by the author makes a GREAT gift! You can't tell me that a book lover wouldn't just be thrilled to get a book signed by the author! In some cases, someone who DOESN'T like to read becomes a reader because they were given an autographed copy!

I will be one of the featured authors this coming weekend with all three of my books, so please, if you're anywhere in the area, come out and support not just myself but the many wonderful and talented Connecticut authors!

Here's my schedule for this weekend:

Friday 9/19 - 10am-9pm
Saturday 9/20 - 10am-9pm
Sunday 9/21 - 10am-6pm

You can't miss the booth - as you go into the CT building from the front, it's on the right hand side!

In other news, I'm not working on book 4 yet (*cringe* .. I know .. I'm hearing complaints all the time coming from the various peanut galleries in my life lol), but I will start to work on it soon, I promise. Over the past few months, my oldest son joined the Navy last year so he's out of the nest, but my two younger children who still live with me went to Italy this summer to visit their father (this was a major event for me as they've never flown anywhere without me, not to mention INTERNATIONALLY!!). I've recently changed jobs and went from working Mon-Fri from 8a-4p to working Sun-Thurs from 12p-9p, so I'm adjusting to a new job AND a new shift.

As a side note, I must say that I really like working swing shift because I am NOT a morning person .. I love sleeping in late and getting home at night when the world is much quieter, the house is much quieter (it won't be long before I start writing during those quiet hours).

Another development over the summer (just a few weeks ago, as a matter of fact) is that my good friend Angelina, whom I've known for almost 20 years, got married! This was a milestone for her and I couldn't be happier for her, her three girls, and her new husband Chris. She asked me to be her Matron of Honor, which I was (visit, go to pics, then view the album "Close to My Heart"), and for that honor, Angie, I will be forever grateful!!

As an author, one constant in my life among all these events is I'm constantly trying to find ways to market my books. As a result, I've been doing book signings at various Borders stores as well as participating in different events around the state (Fish Tales, Tugs & Sails; I Am Festival; Celts & Currachs to name a few). My life is very full and I feel like I'm always on the go, but I wouldn't change a thing ... well, maybe I would take more vacations where I would guiltlessly enjoy some much-needed down time, but I'm a working single mother and my kids are healthy... we have a roof over our heads and food in the house, so I won't push it...

When I start writing book four I'll update you again on how things are going... I'm sure I will start working on it in the next few months. I'm getting that writing itch!!

Household chores await me, so I'm gonna get moving. If you're anywhere near the Big E this weekend, please stop by the CAPA Bookstore and say hi! Hope to see you all there and as always,


Hugs, MJ

Monday, July 14, 2008

Discounted Price on YA Fantasy Books!

I'm a YA fantasy author and am currently in the middle of writing a series of books for young adults. My target audience is 8-15 year olds, but I've also had adults (anyone with an imagination, really) read and enjoy the books as well. If you'd like to see more info about me or my books, google MJ Allaire or visit the following websites, or

Do you have any teen readers in your household? Do they devour books almost as fast as you can buy them? Well, even though it's the middle of July, it won't be long before the holidays are here, and this year more than ever, the economy will force many of us to count pennies more than we ever have before. Doesn't it make sense to start thinking about that holiday shopping for those young readers as early as you can? Maybe by starting earlier, it won't be quite so painful when those pennies are stretched!

As a single mother of three, I'm already thinking about my holiday shopping. Because of this, and because I'm striving to make a difference to the young readers in the world, I've decided to offer my books at a discounted rate for a limited time!!

In celebration of the recent release of my latest book, "Dragon's Tear: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book Three", I'm now offering all three books at a price that is SLASHED from retail price! The books currently retail as follows:

Dragon's Blood: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book One ... $15.99
The Prisoner: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book Two ......... $16.59
Dragon's Tear: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book Three .... $16.99

That's a total of $49.57, not including shipping!

For the rest of July, you can get your very own set of the first three books in my YA fantasy series for the low, affordable price of $35.00 (plus shipping)!!

That's NEARLY $15 OFF the retail price!! That's almost like buying two books at retail price and getting the third one free!

Shipping will be an additional $5.00, media mail. I will accept paypal (my paypal id is or a check, but your check must clear before I'll ship the books. I'll be happy to sign the books for you if you let me know who to sign them for.

If you'd like to see some of the comments left by readers, visit the books on Amazon and read for yourself! The Denicalis Dragon Chronicles will take you into an adventure filled with magic, dragons, and a quest to save an unfamiliar world from an evil sorcerer!

If you'd like to take advantage of this special offer, please contact me at! This special is only good for the month of July, so don't hesitate to contact me!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy reading and happy summer!

MJ Allaire

Monday, April 28, 2008

First Sale of Dragon's Tear!!!

Hi all,

Well, 4 days after "Dragon's Tear: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book Three" went live on amazon, I had my first sale!

I'm so thrilled it was purchased so fast .. I really think this book is going to be a great seller!!!
Woooooooooohoooooooooooo!!!!! Two copies of "Dragon's Blood: Denicalis Dragon Chronicles - Book One" also sold over the weekend on Amazon, but it just wasn't as exciting as THE FIRST SALE of a newly released book!!

I'll keep you posted on things, just wanted to share!!

Hugs and happy reading!!!
MJ Allaire, YA Fantasy Author

Monday, April 7, 2008

My Fiasco with AuthorHouse...

(Note: This part was written on Sunday, 4/6/08)…

Well, as of today, Sunday 4/6/08, I’m STILL waiting for my galley to be done by AuthorHouse. It’s been almost 6 weeks now since I had my “design meeting” and I’ve sent them 2 emails in the past 10 days describing my dissatisfaction with their service, explaining that waiting 6 weeks for a galley is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE! I’m not exactly sure what’s taking them so long with this part of the production of my book, and to be frank, there is now a real possibility that this could interfere with some events I have planned for late April and May (namely a GRAND opening of a new Borders store in Southbury CT in which the DMM of Borders in CT invited ME to participate in)!!! I feel helplessly frustrated by this whole chain of events that I’m experiencing with AuthorHouse, and am SERIOUSLY considering either choosing another company to publish the remaining books in my series OR publishing them myself.

Today (Monday, 4/7) I called the support supervisor but got her voice mail. I left her a lengthy message telling her this is my 3rd book with their company and I’m very unhappy with the way things are going, and that I need them to finish the production process ASAP. I STILL have not received any phone calls or email from them letting me know the status of things, which is discouraging in itself. Tonight I logged into my author account and lo and behold, i see that there’s progress! But now I’m in a NEW pickle!

When I talked to the design rep during my design meeting back in Feb, I told her I wanted to keep the page count down below 318 pages, which will keep my cost the same as it is for my other 2 books. Based on that, I asked them to put the retail price of $16.99 on the back of the book. Now, the cover is done (and any other changes I want to make will cost me), but the page count is over 318 (I don’t know the exact page count, as the communication between them and me SUCKS!). What it comes down to is if I leave the retail price on the back cover as it is now, I will make NO money on the book. Sigh…

SOOOOO I sent an email to my new rep at AuthorHouse (my old rep was AWESOME but he recently left to pursue other ventures), asking him to please bring the page count down BELOW 318 pages. What worse is I believe they have sent my galley to be printed, and then it will be mailed to me. This all could have been avoided if they would have contacted me earlier today to let me know this is the number of pages your book will have and this will be your cost .. OR hey, here’s a new concept, just DO WHAT I SUGGESTED AT MY DESIGN MEETING, and drop the font size one point so that it will decrease the number of pages!!!!

Ayeeeeeeeeeeeeee, so needless to say, I’m NOT happy with this experience with AuthorHouse, except for the cover design. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my cover!

… I just want to have my book finished and IN MY HANDS!!!

On the brighter side of things, I finally FINALLY finished the painting for my boyfriend Ryan, and gave it to him (sort of) on Sunday, 4/6/08. It’s a picture of the Bridge of Flowers in Shellburne Falls, Massachusetts that we went to last summer, and it took me about 4 1/2 months AND at least 50 hours to complete. If you’d like to see the finished product, go to my photo albums in my MySpace profile ( and look for the album called “series of steps of the pic I’m painting for my beau”. If you feel up to it, please comment on any of the pictures and let me know what you think!

NOW I can start working on Book 4, Dragon’s Breath, and oh BOY what ideas I have in mind for this one (thanks to brainstorming with Ryan, especially this afternoon!)!!!! I’ll keep you posted on progress!!

Ok .. gonna run. I’ll definitely update this once AuthorHouse gets their head out of the sand! ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!!

Hugs and have a great week!! MJ